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英国巴斯大学bath语言学英语留学生essay代写范例:On the Similarities and Differences between English and Chinese Metaphors from the Cognitive Perspective

 

Abstract:Metaphor research has a long history. There are many interpretations of metaphor from various perspectives, in which, the cognitive view is the most powerful one in interpreting metaphors. Contemporary cognitive theory points out that metaphor is a cognitive process from one area of experience to another area of experience. Meanwhile, it is also a kind of cultural reflection. English and Chinese languages as different carriers reflect different ways of thinking, behaviour and cultures. Through the various instances of metaphor, this study shows that the two metaphors have remarkable similarities because human beings have many similar living environment and cognitive foundation, the diversities also reveal the two languages’ different ethnic psychology and effect on communication.

Key words: Chinese and English metaphors, cognitive view,Similarities and Differences

 

1. Introduction

 

    Metaphor is traditionally viewed as a particular rhetoric device, employed especially in poetry. However, it is not enough just to study it as rhetoric means or a linguistic phenomenon, for metaphor, as an important means of man’s thinking, is involved in human cognitive process. With the birth and development of cognitive theory in recent years, more and more attention has been paid to how language operates in people’s minds. The cognitive study about metaphor shows that metaphor is pervasive in everyday life and is not just in language but also in thought and action. During the 1970s, metaphor was not only studied by linguists, but also provoked the great interest of philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, etc. Among numerous achievements in research, the Conceptual Metaphor Theory put forward by George Lakoff has been attracting the most attention. The theory claims that metaphor is the basis of mankind’s cognition, thought, experience, speech and behavior. It is the basic means by which we live. The nature of metaphor is to understand and experience one kind of subject matter through another kind....更多Metaphorical language is a exterior manifestation of metaphorical thinking. Because there are differences of geographical location and culture, there is a great difference between meanings of English and Chinese metaphor. It is easy to make mistakes when you use them. There are lots of metaphors in English and Chinese, so we can learn the differences and similarities of cultures from them. In English and Chinese, one metaphor may bring us the same imagination ,which reflects the similarities of cultures, and shows that people have the same thinking mode, but evinces differences of cultures more often. It further shows the importance of culture in the shaping of conceptual metaphor. On the basis of George Lakoff’s Conceptual Metaphor Theory, this thesis tries to analyze the metaphorical expressions both in English and Chinese to better understand their cultural heritage.

 

2. A General Survey of Metaphor from the Cognitive Perspective

 

2.1 Definition of Metaphor

    The English word "metaphor"derives from Greek word "metaphora". It is composed by "meta"and "pherein", which has respective meaning as "over"and "to carry".[1](P24)Hence the original meaning of "metaphora"was "to carry over". Aristotle, perhaps the first scholar to define metaphor, argues "Metaphor is the application to one thing of a name belonging to another thing".[2]However,metaphor nowadays is no longer considered as only connected to literature classes, rather, it is pervasive. Brown, a specialist in the sociology of art, notes that metaphors provide a perspective onknowledge just as scientific paradigms provide a perspective on theoretical knowledge. Some other famous sentences are as follows:

"To know is to use metaphor."—Friquegnon

"The whole of nature is a metaphor of the human mind."—Emerson

"Metaphor was the beginning of wisdom,the earliest scientific method."—C.Day-Lewis

Among the uncountable definitions of metaphor in recent years, the one presented by Lakoffis quite notable. He holds the sense of metaphor as a cross-domain mapping, a way of thinking. For instance, "argument"and "war"are two completely different "domains", but we can use words used to depict war to describe love. Therefore, we have the metaphor "Argument is war".

2.2 Cognitive Structural Features and Essence of Metaphor

Metaphor is not only a linguistic phenomenon, but, more important, an important method of cognition. Since Lakoff and Johnson broke the traditional rhetoric layer in metaphor study, Linguistic study of metaphor has came into a new field of cognitive science. Cognitive linguists consider a conceptual metaphor must contain two parts: source domain and target domain. For instance, in the Shakespeare’s famous comedy As You Like It, there are wonderful dialogues as follows:

     "All the world is a stage,

And all the man and women merely players.

They have their exists and their entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts."

    It reflects a basic conceptual metaphor: LIFE IS A PLAY. In this sentence, the source domain is PLAY, and the target domain is LIFE. Play has a rich inner structure, including actors, makeup, costumes, stage, audience, personas, and directors and so on. Life is a play, the metaphor causes a corresponding relations: world to stage, men and women to the actors in the play. The metaphoric language helps us better understand the concept of LIFE, which is abstract and meaningful.[3](P93)

Within Cognitive Linguistics the term metaphor is understood as refering to a pattern of conceptual association, rather than an individual metaphorical usage or a linguistic convention. Lakoff and Johnson (1980: 5) describe metaphor as follows: "The essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another."[4]When Robert Frost refers to the "road less traveled."[5] He uses the words "road"and "traveled" in metaphorical ways; in conventional usage, this phrase is "the metaphor," but from the cognitive view, the more important object of study is the basis pattern of thought which allows the phrase to have the meaning it does. Since this pattern involves associations at the conceptual level, it can be expressed by many different lexical means—metaphorical uses of path, fork in the road, direction and numerous other terms reflect the same basic set of associations.

2.3Cognitive Function of Metaphor

Just as mentioned before, Lakoff and Johnson note: "metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act is fundamentally metaphorical in nature" . This definition implies that as a means of capturing the essential nature of an experience, the metaphor is an active process of our self-understanding and the world around us. It also suggests metaphor is more than verbal expression, whatever a person says, does, sees, hears, feels or imagines has thepossibilityto be a metaphor that represents another experience.

On the other hand, metaphor’s meaning and purpose exploration and appreciation are not as easy as expected. It requires active involvement of the reader. Just as Ronnie Manalo Ruiz puts it, "…the meaning of a metaphor can vary from culture to culture, region to region, and even from a rhetor to his audience. The rhetor must form an analogy that is both easy to identify yet not too blatant to produce an effective metaphor, and the audience must think beyond the literal definitions of the words before them to find the deeper inner meaning in a metaphorical phrase." [6]Metaphors act as shepherds to lead the audience onto the correct path of thought. In his "When ‘Identity’ Meets ‘Metaphor’: The Exercise of Metaphor In Molding Identity", Yupei Zhang summed the functions of metaphor as follows: 1) highlight some concepts selectively; 2) creating meanings and new ideas; 3) hide some concepts and values; 4) possess some entailment and indicate personality life outlook and cultural presupposition.[7]

 

3. Similarities and Differences between English and Chinese Metaphors from the Cognitive Perspective

 

3.1 Similarities between English and Chinese Metaphors


As we have mentioned, conceptual metaphors are classified into structural metaphors, orientational metaphors and onological metaphors. They are natural and pervasive in our thought and language. Most of us believe they are part of our conceptual system and language. We are in the habit of understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in term of another. We understand abstract concept in terms of concrete object, both in west and east.

In this chapter, the following examples are trying to examine the similarities from the three aspects.


3.1.1 Similarities from the Aspect of Structural Metaphors

Structural metaphors play the most important role in Lakoff and Johnson’book(1980). They refer to those cases where one concept is metaphorical structured in terms of another. This means that even though Lakoff and Johnson consider some concepts more basic than others, the structure metaphors by which we structure our reasoning being privileged means of highlighting and hiding concepts are still grounded in our experience. Such kind of metaphors is very common. ARGUMENT IS WAR,TIME IS MONEY,LIFE IS JOURNEY etc. all fall into this type.

The following are the specified instances to explain the similarities from this aspect.

As we know, love is the most common feelings of human beings, and it can share the common mental experience in people. Through the comparison between English and Chinese metaphors about love, we can make a better understanding in metaphor from the structural view.

In English, the examples are the conceptual metaphor about love: LOVE IS A JOURNEY.

(a)The relationship isn’t going anywhere.

(b)They are in a dead end relationship.

(c)Their marriage is on the rocks.

(d)This relationship has been spinning its wheels for years.    

    The sentences above are all the expressions of conceptual metaphors. Conceptual metaphors theory believes there is only one metaphor. In these examples: LOVE IS A JOURNEY.

    In Chinese, love is always compared as journey too.

    For instance: the followings are the extracts from the popular songs.

(1)我们再也回不去了,对不对?

(2)情长路更长。

(3)情路艰辛。

(4)我们牵手走完一生。

    In these examples, love is the target domain, and journey is the source domain. The two domains are corresponding to a series of relationship.  

3.1.2 Similarities from the Aspect of Orientational Metaphors

 Different from structural metaphor, orientational metaphors serve to organize a whole system of concepts with respect to one another (Lakoff,1980:14). They are characterized not so much by structuring one concept in terms of another, but by a co-occurrence in our experience. The orientational metaphors are also called spatialization metaphors since most of them result from our perception of space. Spatial orienations, originating from the interaction between humans and their physical environment,are the basic concepts by which man live, including up and down, in and out, front and back, on and off, deep and shallow, central andperipheral.

People map those concrete concepts onto some abstract ones,such as emotions, health

conditions,quantity and social status,etc., which gives rise to many metaphorical expressions.[8](P39)

    For example, the spatial word "up" and "down" are frequently made use of in English language. They are pervasively seen in QUANTITY, POSITION, and STATE and so on.[9](P89)

E.g.: UP: (a) Costs have gone up many years.

        (b)My son will go up to the university next near.[10]        

        (c)As to his health, he is way up there.

DOWN: (a) Slow down.

       (b) Bring down the government.

 (c) Most of my colleagues have gone down with flu.

The Chinese spatial word "上" and "下" are frequently made use of in language. 上refers to something being above something else and 下refers to something being below something else.

   E.g.: SHANG: (1) 现在粮食价格上涨,发展农业不仅仅是为了应对危机,更

                是一个发展的机会。

       (2)上面派了两名干部到我们这儿帮助工作。

       XIA: (1) 普遍的物价下跌会压低薪酬水平,从而阻碍消费者以及公                                   司支付债务。

       (2) 他父母是在下乡时认识的。

            (3)科技部通过下放权力、减少中间环节等手段,努力提高办         事效率。[11]

    The contrast between up and down is a particularly fruitful source of metaphor. They have a distinct characteristic.

 There are remarkable corrspondences between the metaphorical extensions of up/down and "上/下". This correspondence suggests the possibility that there may exist a universal spatial metaphor system. Languages are built on human cognition. Human beings in different languages are able to understand each other, because they follow the same or similar cognitive process or approach.[12](P66)

3.1.3 Similarities from the Aspect of Ontological Metaphors

In ontological metaphors, human experiences with physical objects, especially with their own bodies, provide the basis for viewing events, activities, emotions, ideas etc. as entities and substances:"each of us is a container, with a bounding surface and an in-our orientation. We project our own in-out orientation onto other physical objects that are bounded by surfaces"(Lakoff and Johnson,1980:29).

Ontological metaphors can be further subcategorized into entity andsubstance

metaphor, container metaphor, personification andmetonymy.

We will emphasize on container metaphor in this section.

We human beings constantly experience our bodies as containers with the skin as the boundary to separate the inside from the outside. Thus we form container metaphor in our mind. This concept of container can be extended metaphorically to other physical objects with boundaries like a house, a room; to natural environment like a forest; to some substances like water, air; even to solid objects like a rock. So, we can say to go into one house and out of the forest; jump into the water, fly in the air; through the solid rock.

    The followings are examples to present a contrastive study of metaphorical expressions of some basic emotions from the container metaphor aspects: happiness, and sadness between English and Chinese metaphor.

This is the example: THE EMOTIONS ARE FLUIDS IN A CONTAINER. There are many expressions under the conceptual metaphor.

In English: (a) I was full of sorrow.

         (b)They are immersed in sorrow.

         (c)Joy welled up inside him.

         (d)She was overflowing with joy.

In Chinese, it is has the same functions by the following expressions.

         (1) 他沉浸于悲伤之中。

         (2)失恋后,他心中充满悲伤。

         (3)他再也按捺不住心中的喜悦。

         (4)喜悦之情如泉水流入他的心田。[13](P26)

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